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Full text of "Sketch of the life of Richard Dobbs Spaight of North Carolina"

The 

Howell Collection 

OF HISTORICAL 
MATERIALS 



Presented by Kay Kyser 

And his Mother 

Emily Royster Howell Kyser 

As a Memorial 

To her Brother 

Edward Vernon Howell 

Dean School of Pharmacy 

1 897-1 93 1 



THE UNIVERSITY 

OF 

NORTH CAROLINA 

LIBRARY 

S733w C.4 



00006777133 



This BOOK may be kept out TWO WEEKS 
ONLY, and is subject to a fine of FIVE 
CENTS a day thereafter. ■ft~wa9-tafce«-w*t-«n 
the (Jay indicated below: * '-*-^,* 




iirlart IdIiIis lpin|t 



.7 




);paxyi(l- 



SKETCH OF THE LIFE 



OF 



RICHARD DOBBSSPAIGHT 

OF NORTH CAROLINA, 

# 

^ By JOHX H. WHEELEK, 

Author (ji- "nisioRV ok North Carolina," &c., &c. 



P. A I/riMORK: 

WILLIAM K. BOYLE, PRINTEK, 
CoRNRK St. Pail and Baltimour Streets. 

1880. 



:5 



V A J 



RICHARD DOBBS SPAIGIIT* 



The recent centennial period of our nation was 
marked by a spirit of historic inquiry. 

Ooni^ress, by a resolution of 13tli of March, 1876, 
recommended to the people of the seyeral States to 
assemble in their several counties or towns, at the 
approaching anniversary of our National Independence, 
and that they cause to have delivered on such day an 
liistorical sketch of said county or town, so that a com- 
plete record miglit thus be obtained of the progress of 
our Institutions during the tirst centennial of their 
existence. 

This resolve Avas promulgated by the President, on 
21st May, 1876, with the liope that tlie object of such 
resolution might meet the approbation of the people, 
and that proper steps might be taken to carry the same 
into effect. 

The committee for the restoration of Independence 
Hall, in Philadelphia, invited the presence of the 
American Historians, Biographers and Literati at that 
place on the 2nd July, 1876, (the centennial anniversary 
of the Resolutions of Independence,) desiring that a 
biographical sketch of every individual, whose memory 
is associated with the building, during the early days of 
the Republic, be prepared and deposited on that day 

♦From advanced sheets of Col. John H. Wheeler's forthcoming 
volume, '* Leading' Men of North Carolina." 
1 



2 Richard Dohhs Spaiglit. 

among- the arohives of the Xational Museum, witli the 
request tliat "these sketehes slioukl not exceed two 
pages of foolscap." 

Wlien I accepted the invitaticm which I had the 
lionor to receive in ]March, 1876, to prepare a Memorial 
of tlie Life and Character of Eichard Dobbs Spaight, 
of my native State, I felt that his long- and illustrious 
services, ample records of which I had in my possession, 
could not be detailed in the "two pages of foolscap." 
Hence the memoir presented on the occasion was 
"cribbed, cabined and confined;" and although kindly 
received, was not satisfactory, even to myself. This is 
the motive of giving a more extended, and, I trust, 
satisfactory record of one who had "done the State 
some service," over whom the dust of time was slowly 
gathering. 

Eichard Dobbs Spaight was born, lived and died in 
^ewbern, Xorth Carolina. 

There are few States of "the old thirteen," that de- 
clared Independence in 1776, whose early history is more 
marked by interesting incident, or by acts of patriotic re- 
solve and daring, than Xorth Carolina. None is so little 
known to our Nation at large.* It Avas on her shores 

*From 3r(l volume of "Voyaji,es and Discoveries of the Eiif2;lish 
Nation, by Eicbard Halda;;'t," printed at London, 1000, |)age 301: 

"The first voyages made to the coast of America, with two barks, 
wherein were Captains Philip Amadus and Arthur Barlow, wlio dis- 
covered the country now called Virjiinia, anno 1584, written by one 
of said Cai)tains, and sent to Sir Walter Kaleif>h, Knight, at whose 
charge and direction the said voyage was set forth: 

" 'On the second of July, we found shole water, when we smelt so 
sweet and stirring a smeele as if we had been in the midst of some 
delicate garden abounding in all kind of odoriferous tiowers, and on 
the fourth we arrived on the coast. After thanks given to God for 
our safe arrival thither, we manned our boats, and went to take pos- 
session of the same, in the right of the Queenes most excellent Ma- 
jestic, as rightful Queeue aad Priucesse thereof.' 



Richard Dohhs Spaif/ht. 8 

that the Englishman first landed on the Western Con- 
tinent, on Roanoke Island, in 1584^. 

The iirst declaration of inde])endence of the English 
crown was made in Xorth Carolina. The fearless men 
of Mecklenherg, more than a year in advance of the 
National Congress, assembled in May, 1775, and de- 
clared independence. The docnments in the foot note 
are from the records of the English government, and 
are beyond any cavil.* 

'•'We found the people most gentile, loving and faithful, voide of 
all guile and treason, and such as live after the manner of the golden 
age. They call the Island, Kaonoak, distant from the harbour we 
entered seven leagues.'" Page 304. 

This was the hrst landing of the English on our continent, and is 
located in the present county of Dare, in the extreme eastern part of 
North Carolina. 

The first conflict in arms between the regular forces of England 
and the Colonists occurred at Alamance, in North Carolina, on ICth 
May, 1771. 

The conduct of the Officers of the (Jrowu towards the people was 
marked by oppression and fraud. The people i)etitioned in vain to 
the Governor (Tryon) for redress. But failing to obtain this, made 
open resistance. Governor Tryon, with a force of more than 1100 
men, met the Regulators, as they were termed, led by Herman Hus- 
bands and others, five miles west of Great Alamance river, on the 
road leading from Hillsboro to Salisbury, and a coutiict ensued in 
which sixty men of the royal forces were killed. The Kegulators, 
after a conflict of two hours, were routed, leaving many dead and 
many wounded. Thus, and here, was the first blood spilled in these 
United States in resistance to the exactions of English rulers and 
the oppressions of the English Government. The great principles 
contended for by the Kegulators — the rights of the many against 
the exactions of the few — tlie right of the people to resist all taxes 
not imposed by their representatives — the right to kiu)w for what 
the^- i)aid taxes, and how sai<l taxes were a])])ropriate<l — were the 
principles for which, in 1770, independence was declared. The ofld- 
cial account of the Koyal Governor, Tryon, of this battle, is given in 
Wheeler's History of N. C, Vol. 2, p. 1(>. 

*From State Paper Office, London, Vol. 1, p. 204. Extract from a 
Dispatch from Governor Martin to Secretary of State, dated 

(Continued.) 



4 Richard Dohhs Spaight. 

.Vmoiig such a race of people, and animated by such 
prineiples, the subject of this sketch was born, lived 
and died. A faithful record of his services will com- 
mand tlie deepest interest in the Histor}' of the State 
in wliich he was a prominent actor. 

Biograpliy has one advantage over History. Both 
are recorded narratives. While History details facts 
relative to IS^ations, Biography gives us the minute acts 

"Fort Johnston, North Carolina, 30th June, 1775. 

"The Minutes of tlie Council lield at this place the other day will 
make the impotence of the Government here as apparent to your 
Lordsliip as anything I can set before you. 

"The situation in which I tind myself is indeed, my Lord, most 
desjiicable and mortifvini>'. 1 live, alas, inglorious, only to deplore it. 
The resolves of the Committee of JMechlenberg, which your Lordship 
will tind in the enclosed newspa])er, sur])ass all the horrid and trea- 
sonable i)ublications that the inflammatory s])irits of the Continent 
have yet produced, and your Lordshij) may depend its authors and 
abettors Avill not esca])e when my hamls are sufficiently strengthened 
to attempt the re(;overy of the lost authority of the Government. A 
copy of these resolves was sent off, as I am informed, by exi)ress, to 
the Congress at Philadelphia, as soon as they passed in the Com- 
mittee." 

This authentic record from the archives of the English Government 
places this fact beyond all cavil, doubt or question. 

Extiact from the Proclamation of JosiaL Martin, Governor, &c., 
of Uis Majesty's Province of North Carolina: 

"On Board of His Majesty's Sloop, the Cruiser, j 
In Cape Pear Kiver, Aug. 8th, 1775. } 

" Whereas, I have seen a most infamous publication in the Cape 
Fear Mereunj^ imi)orting to be the resolves of a set of people styling 
themselves a Committee for the county of Mecklenburg, most traito- 
romly declaring the entire dissolution of the Laws, Government and 
the Constitution of this country, and sett'uuj up a system of rule re- 
pugnant to the Laws, and subversive of Ilis Majesty's Government: 

" I do hereby forewarn the people against such act, and conjure 
them to persist and pursue in their duty and allegiance." 

Note. — These records were coi)ied by me from the records in the 
State Paper Office, Chancery Lane, London, 18G4. J. H. W. 



Richard Dohhs Spaight. 5 

of iuclividuals. The one, like the splendid eartoons that 
decorate the walls of our National Capitol, presents to 
the dazzled eyes of tlu^ spectator nuuierous forms and 
faces, each distinct and ditferent; the other, like the 
matchless marble of Hondcm, or Greenough, unveils 
a single figure, in all its i)erfect proportions. 

"A combination, and a form indeed, 
Where every God did seem to set his seal. 
To give tlie workl assurance of a man." 

Indeed, a faithful biography of any distinguished in- 
dividual is often the most satisfactory account of the 
scenes and occurrences in which he was a conspicuous 
actor. The life of Washington by Marshall is the best 
record of the Revolutionary War. 

The tow n of Newbern,* where Governor Spaight was 
born, is situated in the eastern part of North Carolina, 
at the confluence of the Neuse and Trent rivers. 

Around this ancient and classic town are clustered 
many memories of rare interest. It received its name 
from the emigrants from Switzerland, in memorial of 
the vine-clad city of their fotherland. Here landed the 
Palatines from the Rhine, led by the adventurous De 
Graafenreidt (1709,) w hose valor resisted the inroads of 
the savages, and whose industry made the "wilderness 
blossom as the rose." Here was the seat of Royal 
Government, long directed by the rule of Governor 
Dobbs ; and here his successor, Tryon, held his court, 
and raised a palatial mansion, more ornate and princely 
than any at the time in America. From tluit day to 
the present, Newbern has been known and distinguished 
for intelligence, patriotism and hospitality, which have 
won for it the name of " the Athens " of North Carolina. 

In this town, (m the 25th March, 1758, was Richard 

Dobbs Spaight born. 

* More frequently now written New-Berne. 



6 Jxiclno-d DohJhs Spaiflht. 

His fotlier, Kicliard Spaight, was a natlTe of Ireland, 
of an ancient and honorable family whieli still preserves 
its rank.* He was api)()inted bv order of the King and 
Council, dated 4th February, 1757, one of the Council 
of CTOvern(U' I)ol)])s; and on tlie death of Henry McCul- 
lock, he was niad(^ the Secretary of the Crown in the 
Province of North Carolina — a position, in importance, 
next to that of tlie Covernor. 

A list of the civil officers of North Carolina at this 
time is given, whicli may interest the antiquarian and 
some of their descendants who are yet among us.f 

*See iJuike's Landed Gentry. 

t Extract from a Dispatch of (Jovenior Dobbs to tbe Board of 
Trade, as to tlie coiulitioii of the Troviiice of North Carolina, dated 
1762. 

"The names of the Civil OfHcers on the Establishment are: 

Kic'iiAKD Spaight, Secretaiy and Ch^rk of the Cro\Yn, appointed 
by the Governor in 175G, in place of Henry iMcCullock, deceased. 

Mil. Berry, Chief Justice, appointed b\ warrant from the Crown 
in IT.jl), in place of IMi-. Ilenly, deceased. 

Mr. Hasell, Baron, appiunted by the Governor in 1760, upon 
Mr. Kieussett's resij^nation. 

Hon. and Rev. Mr. Cholmondely, Audit(n- by patent on rever- 
sion from the Crown, upon death of Lord Walpole. 

1\OB]<:rt Jones, Attorney General, n))on ]Mr. Child's resignation, 
by warrant trom the Crown in April, 1761, 

Mr. Rutherford, Receiver General, lestored by the Lords of the 
Treasury, after havin<>- been suspended in 17.^!). 

Mr. iMcGuiRE, -Judge of the Admiralty, appointed by the Gov- 
ernor in place of Mr. Ross, deceased, in 176(K 

Mr. Marm. Jones, Mr. Charlton, and Mr. Dewey, appointed 
by the Governor, Judges, in pursuance of an Act of Assembly passed 
1760, to erect live Suj)erior Courts. 

John Starke y, Thomas Barker, Treasurers of the Northern 
and Southern Districts. 

Mr. Palmer, Surveyor General, appointed by warrant from the 
Crown in 175.j; also the Collector of tlic Port of Bath. 

Mr. Dry, Collector of Port of Brunswick. 

Mr. RiEUSSETT. Collector of Port of Roauoak. 



Richard Bohhs Spaighf. 7 

Mr. Spaight served as Pay Master to the troops raised 
by l^orth Carolina to aid General Braddock ; in which 
campaign Washington took his first h'ssons in war. He 
married :Margarct Dobbs, the sister of Governor Dobbs,* 

Mr. AVhitehall, Collector of Port of Currituck. 

Mr. McCullock, Collector of Port of Beaufort. 

These are all api)ointed by the Lords of the Treasury iti Eu.yland, 
and salaries paid from thence. The other officeis are paid out of his 
^Majesty's (piit rents. The Auditor £100 i)er aiuuuu, Chief Justice 
£70, Baron £40, Surveyor General £40, Secretary as Clerk of the 
Crown £25, Attorney General £80." From Records of Board of 
Trade, X. C. 

*We give the genealogy of the Uobbs family from which Gov. 
Spaight descended, by his mother's side, from authentic sources. In 
our country, especially in the South, we are behind the age as to 
genealogy. In England, the subject is one of elaborate research. 
In New England genealogical societies abound, sustained by a 
Quarterly Periodical. Every tamily in this section is proud of its 
genealogical-tree. Annual meetings occur under their ancestral roof- 
tree, where traditions, hallowed by time, are preserved, the lines of 
consanguinity traced, and the ties of atfection strengthened. Some 
may, with pragmatic indifference, deride such efltbrts, but surely no 
one can be insensible to the satistying feeling of having descended 
from an honest and virtuous ancestry, and of being connected with 
persons of unsullied reputation, of genius and intellect. It instils a 
hatred of inactivity and vice, and stimulates to usefulness and virtue. 
From Dictionary of American Biography. By Francis Drake. Boston : 

Osgood & Co., 1872. 

Dobbs, Arthur, Gov., of N. C, born in Ireland, 2nd April, 1089, 
and died at Town Creek, N. C, on 2()th March, 17G5. He was a man 
of letters, of liberal views, had been a member of the Irish Parlia- 
ment, and distinguished for his efforts to discover the North West 
passage. As Governor of N. C, he adopted conciliatory measures 
toward the Indian tribes, but his administration was a continued 
struggle with the Legislature on unimportant matters, dis])laying on 
his part an ardent zeal for royal ]n-erogatives, and an indomitable 
resistance on the part of the colonists. He was the author of "An 
Account of the Countries Adjoining the Hudson Bay," (4to., London, 
1748.) "Trade and Improvement of Ireland," (8vo., Dublin, 1729,) 
and " Captain Middleton's Defence," (8vo., 1744.) (Continued.) 



8 Richard Dohhs Spaiglit. 

whose administration, as ruler of Xortli Carolina, was 
in tuniultuons times. Tlie liigli estimate that Governor 
Dobbs placed on his prerogatives as the representative of 
royalty, was sternly opposed by the people and their 
representatives, and ])rodn('ed angry and violent colli- 

DOBBS OF CASTLE DOBBS. 

From Genealof/ical and Heraldic Dicfwnary of the Landed Gentry of 

Oreat Britain and Ireland, d:c. By J. Bernard Burke. London : 

CoUmrn & Co., 1853. 

''Tills fjimily was established in Ireland by John Dobbs, who 
accompanied Sir Henry Dockwod to that country in lo9G, and was 
subsequently his Deputy as Treasurer for Ulster. This John Dobbs, 
who is stated to have been p-andson of Sir Richard Dobbs, l^ord 
Mayor of London in 1551, married Marjiaret, only child of John Dak- 
way of Ballyhill, and had by her two sons, Foulk and Hercules. 

"Foulk was lost with his father, returning from England; and 
Hercules, who succeeded to his father's property, married Magdalen 
West, of Ballydougan co., Downs, and left an only son. 

"Kichard Dobbs, who died in 1701, leaving his estate to his 
younger son, (his eldest turinng Quaker, was disinherited,) Richard 
Dobbs, of Castletown, born 1000. He married (second time) Mar- 
garet Clingston, of Belfast, by whom he had three daughters. 
Among them Margaret, who married Richard Spaigiit. He was 
High Sheriif of Antrim in 1094, and died in 1711. His eldest son 
was 

Arthur Dobbs, born on 2nd April, 1089: lie was High Sheriff of 
Antrim in 1720; for niauy yeair. TJember of Parliament for Carrick- 
Tgr^Tu;; married Anne, daughter of Capt. Osburn of Drogheda, and 
relicjt of Capt. Norbury, by whom he acquired an estate at Timakoe, 
and had Conway Riciiard (his heir,) Edward Brice, Frances, and 
Mary who married Dean Ryder. Mr. Dobbs was appointed Engi- 
neer and Surveyor General of Ireland, and in 1753 was sent out as 
Governor of North Carolina, where he acquired great possessions, and 

die<l there. 

His son Conway died at Beltast in 1811, and was succeeded by his 
eldest son, Kichard Dobbs, who married Nicolini,(hiughter of Michael 
Obyns, of Portowu, and had issue, Conway Richard, the present rep- 
resentative of the family, who resides at Castle Dobbs, Antrim, Ire- 
laud. 

Crest: Unicorn's head. 

Motto: "Amor Dei et proximi summa bealitmU).'' 



Richard Dohhs Spaigld. \) 

sions between the Executive and Legislative Depart- 
ments of the Government. 

So frequent and fierce were these contests between 
the <><)vernor and tlie Leiiislature, that the a^ed hands 
of Gov. Dol)bs (noAV in his 7()tli year) were strengtliened 
by the Government at home by the appointment of 
William Tryon as Lieutenant Governor, and who, upon 
the death of Gov. D. in 1705, became (iovernor of the 
Colony of Xorth Carolina. 

A county was formed in 1754, called Dobbs county ; 
but in 1791 the name was abolished and the territory 
divided into Lenoir and Ghasgow counties. In 179J) the 
latter was changed to Greene. 

A fort was erected in Western North Carolina called 
Fort Dobbs; and the Governor owned large landed 
possessions on Rocky River. 

Such were the ancestors of Richard IJobbs Spaight, 
who at the time of the death of his uncle, was seven 
years old. His parents died soon after. At the age of 
nine he was sent abroad to receive an education, which 
was finished at the University of Glasgow, in Scotland. 

On hearing that his native land Avas involved in war, 
he returned in 1778 to America; and although not 
trained to arms by education or tastes, he promptly ten- 
dered his services, then only twenty years old, to CJen. 
Richard Caswell, who commanded a North Carolina 
brigade in the Southern Army under General Gates, 
and served as akl-de-eamp to General Caswell at the ill- 
fated battle of Camden, (16th Aug., 1780,) where the 
British, under Lord Cornwallis, defcjitcd the Americans 
under Gates. Banm De Kalb, Major Porterfield, and 
many others fell in battle, and Gen. Rutherfoi'd and 
others were taken prisoners. The victory of British 
arms was complete, and the hopes of the patriots for a 
time Avere crushed. Gates retreated to Hillsboro, 
where the Legislature Avas in session, AA'ith GoAernor 
2 



10 I^iehnrd Dohhs Spaight. 

Xash i)rosi(liiig-. A Court of Enquiry ceii.snrcd Gen. 
Gates, and (Jen. Greene was appointed Commander of 
the Sontliern Army. 

This nnhappy experienee in war did not inij)roye the 
taste of IMr. Sipjiiiiht for the profession of arms. But 
he was destined to ligure in scenes in the great drama of 
life, the duties of which demanded equal courage and 
sacrifices, and in wliich battles and blood were the in- 
evitable consecpiences. He returned home, and on 
attaining- his majority, the next year, was elected a mem- 
ber of tlie General Assembl}^ from the boio' of Xew- 
bern, and re-elected in 1782 and 1783. 

By tlie hitter Assembly, lie was elected a member of 
the Congress (confederation) which assembled at An- 
napolis on the 23rd December, 1783, with Hugh Wil- 
liamson, (the Historian of North Carolina) who, like 
Mr. Spaight, had been in the army, and like him was 
in the battle of Camden, and Benjamin Hawkins (after- 
wards a Senator in Congress, 1789,) as colleagues. On 
that day, Mr. Spaight witnessed the resignation of 
George Washington to Congress of his commission as 
Commander-in-Chief of the Armies of America, an 
epoch ever memorable in the annals of our nation. 
In this illustri(ms body Mr. Spaight, although one of 
the youngest, (being only 25 years old,) was also one of 
the most useful and active members. His portrait in 
this body of Fatres Conscnpti, by Trumbull, is pre- 
served, and now graces the rotnnda of the Ca])itol. By 
this body his talents were duly appreciated, since he was 
placed on many of the most imi)ortant committees, to 
which subjects of the gravest character were referred. 
He was on a committee headed by Thomas Jetferson, 
to devise a ])lan for the temporary government of the 
western territory. 



Richard Dohbs Sjndf/M. 11 

On tlie 29th of the same month he was elected, by 
ballot of the Congress, one of the (^)mniittee of States, 
which body possessed and wielded all tli(' ix^wers of 
irovernment. Tliis body had the power to appoint all 
civil and military olhcers, and to repeal any act of Con- 
gress. The Conimittee of States met on the 4th of Jnne 
followins?, at Trenton, New Jersey ; Samncl Hardy, of 
Yiro-inia, was chosen Chairman. The Jonrnals of this 
body prove that Mr. Spaight was an attentive, active, 
and useful member. 

He was elected by the Legislature of North Carcdina, 
in January, 1787. a" delegate to the Convenlion to form 
the Constitution of the United States, which body met 
at Philadelphia on the 11th of May following, and was 
presided over by George Washington. His c(dleagues 
were William Blount (appointed, rice Richard Caswell,) 
and Hugh Williamson (appointed, rice Wilie Jones.*) 
In this bodv Mr. Spaight took an active part. He pro- 
posed and urged that the selection of the members of 
the Senate should be made by the States, and that the 
term of service should be seven years. (Elliott's De- 
bates, page 86.) He also proposed that the Executive 
term should be seven years. The records of this body 
prove that his attendance was regular, and that be 
manifested a deep interest in the vital ciucstions dis- 
cussed. No member was more conversant with tbeir 
deliberations, which knowledge was usefully dis- 
played in a Convention which assembled at Hillsboro', 
on 'the 21st July, 1788, to deliberate and determine 
the proposed plan of the Federal Government. He 
proved himself the ready and able exponent of the Con- 

*The celebrated Naval beio, Jolm Paul Jones, whose name was 
orioinally John Paul, came to North Carolina after leaving Sc;otland, 
and visitin.u Wilie Jones and his brotlu-r, and tl>eir fiunilies. became 
so warm an admirer that he took their name '' Joues." 



12 Richard Ihhhs Spaight. 

stitution and its fearless advocate ; and althonuii a 
decided Jett'ersonian republican, he was coadjutor of 
Pavie, Johnstone, Iredell and others, in urging- its 
adoption. But all in vain. He might well have ex- 
claimed, as Hector did of Troy : — 

" Si Pergama dextra 
Depeiuli possent etiam liac defeiisa fuissent."* 

This Body rejected the Constitution by 100 votes. 
Thns Xorth Carolina presented the anomalous condition 
of a State originally in the confederation, and yet not 
in the Union. Consequently North Carolina did not 
vote in the first Presidential election. This rejection 
produced much apprehension among the friends of the 
Government, among whom was Governor Spaight, and 
specially General Washington. On the invitation of 
Governor Spaight, Washington visited North Carolina 
with the hope of intluencing the people in favor of the 
Constitution. Such was the eft'ect of their counsels, 
that subsequently the ^tate in Convention, at Fayette- 
ville on the 21st November, 1788, ratified that Instru- 
ment, and North Car(dina became a men)ber of the 
Union. General Washington made an extensive tour 
in North Carolina ; he was in Salem and Salisbury, 
and did much to render the new Constitutionf popu- 
lar. In this he was aided by Governor Spaight, and 
other patriots of the day. 

*If Troy could luive been defended 
Tliis liglit liaiid liad done it. 

+Wlien alluding to Constitutions, it may be well to remark that by 
many it is sui)i)osed that our Constitution, as a State, formed as early 
as the 18th De(;ember, 1776, at Halifax, was one of the first State 
Constitutions formed, if not the first, and so ably formed that it 
stood for nearly sixty years without aniendment. This is error. 
When the Kevolutiouary War bad commenced, and the existence of 



Richard Dobhs Spaujlit. 13 

After tliis long; and laborious service in ('(nistitiitioiml 
Conventions (Federal and State,) tlic IkmIiIi of .Mr. 
Spaiglit gave Avay, and lie retired, for this canse, from 
any pnblie duty. The West Indies, and other mild 
climates, were resorted to for alleviation and relicl', l)ut 
he never again enjoyed perfect liealtli. Hut his age 
(then only 30,) his tirniness, ])atience and regular habits 
so far trium])hed, that after an absence of four years 
from public service, he was enabled to return home, 
determined to spend the remainder of his life in repose 
and retirement. But such was the ap])reciation of his 
services by his fellow citizens, and their admiration for 
his talents and his character, that in 1792 he was elected 
a member of the Legislature, and by that body he was 
chosen Governor of the State. He w^as the first native 
of North Carolina that was chosen as her Chief ^Magis- 
trate. It is not very complimentary to the State that 
her first seven Governors, from CasAvell (in 177G) to 
Martin (in 1792,) and all of the signers of the Declara- 
tion of Independence, w^ere born in other States. 

Fortunately for the enfeel)led health of Governoi- 
Spaight, his administration had fallen on the mild rule 
of General Washington, whose prudent and sagacious 

some otlier goveinmeut tliiiii that of England was a nece.s.sit.v, tlie 
Continental (Congress, by a resolve of the 3r<l November, 1775", 
recommended to the Colonies to ado])t such goveninient as should 
best conduce to their safety. 
New Hampshire formed a State Constitution on . December, 21st, 1 775. 

South Carolina March 20th, 1770. 

Virginia June 19th, 1770. 

New Jersey July lUth, 1770. 

Pennsylvania August, 12th, 1770. 

Delaware August lOth, 177G. 

North Carolina Decend)er 18th, 1776. 

Georgia February oth, 1777. 

New York Ai)ril — , . 

Jainieson on Constitutional Conventions. 



14 Bicliard Dohhs Sp((i(jM. 

policy com 111 a 11 (led the support and adiniratioii of his 
coiintrvmeii, and party spirit was subdued and silent. 
And, too, from the limited executive powers prescribed 
by the State Constitution, the duties of Governor did 
not require any great intellectual exertion. The framers 
of the Constitution in 177() luid witnessed and had 
become so disgusted with " high fantastic tricks " of the 
Royal Governors, that they vibrated to the other ex- 
treme, and gave to the Executive but little ])OAver and 
less xiatronage. This Avas expressed by a member of the 
body which formed that instiument, when on his return 
home he was asked what powers were vested in the Gov- 
ernor by the Constitution, replied: "Power, sir! Only 
the power to sign a receipt for his salary, and nothing 
more." 

In 1793, while Governor, he was elected and served 
as Elector for President and Yice-President, and again 
ill 1797. It was during his administration that the 
Legislature met, for the tirst time, in the city of Raleigh, 
on 30th December, 1794. The place for the meeting of 
the Legislature had hitherto been undetermined: First, 
at Little River, in 1715, in Perquimans county ; then 
at ditfereiit jilaces, depending on the will of the Gov- 
ernor, or the caprice of the Legislature — Edenton, Fay- 
etteville, Hillsboro, Kingstim, Kewbern, Smith lield, 
^aleni, Tarboro, Wake Court House, and perhaps other 
points, have enjoyed this homn-.* 

This necessarily produced great confusion in the early 
records of the State, and many were misplaced and 
lost. 

The Convention that met to consider the Federal 
Constitution in 1788, appointed ten commissioners, who 
met in 1792, and selected the place where it now is. 

♦Address of Hon. Kemp P. Battle, on " Eail.> Days of Raleigh." 
1876. 



Richard Dohhs Sjxdfiht. 15 

Diji-ing the administration of Governor Spaight, the 
Indians in Western North Carolina became tronhle- 
some, in tlie new eounty of Bnncomhe, wliieh had l)een 
recently created (1791.) He appointed in Jnly, 171U, 
D. Yance, ancestor of the present Governor of ih^ State, 
0(donel, with antliority to raise "scouts or patroles," 
for the protection of the frontier. 

The dithcnlties between France and England, and 
other European Governments, caused Governor Spaight 
to issue on 25th September, 1793, a l*roclaniation en- 
joining strict neutrality between the belligeri^nts. He 
believed and practiced the wise ])olicy of Washington — 
friendship with all nations and entangling alliances 
with none. He ordered the privateers, which were 
being fitted out at AVilmington, to be seized. This in- 
vohed him in a controversy with Timothy Bloodworth, 
then a Senator in Congress, and with William H. Hill, 
the District Attorney of the United States. Governor 
Spaight received the acknowledgments of the President 
and Secretary of War, (H. Knox,) for his prudent and 
patriotic conduct. On the 2()th of March, 1794, the 
embargo Avas. laid ; war with England was imminent. 
In May following, Governor Spaight was retiuested b}' 
the President to raise and equip 7331 nu'u in ^Alay, 
1794. On the 4th of March, 1794, the Wilmington 
Light Infantry formed a company. 

The Governor of Massachusetts, Samuel Adams, on 
the 9th of October, 1793, informed Governor Spaight 
that in a suit of Yassal vs. Massachusetts, the Governor, 
(then John Hancock,) had been cited to appear; that 
the Governor doubted and disputed this right of the 
Court, and had summoned the Legislature, whicli had 
declared against the exercise of such power, and solicit- 
ing our Legislature to consider the question. The 
Legislature of Xorth Carolina, in response, passed 



16 Richard Dohhs Spaight. 

similar resolutions, denying the riglit and power of the 
Court. 

A similar point was raised by ]\Ir. Jetferson, wlio, 
when President, was summoned in the ease of United 
States vs. Burr, at Kiclimond, and recently the point 
was raised in Pennsylvania by Governor John F. 
Hartranft. 

The subject of edueatimi was one Aery dear to Gov- 
ernor 8paight. During his term of ottiee, the Univer- 
sity had been located at Chapel Hill, and by a previous 
Act, (1789,) he was one of the Trustees appointed, the 
Board of which was composed of Johnstone, Iredell, 
Davie, Williamson, Cabarrus, Blount, Mebane and other 
distinguished men of the State.* 

The letter-book of Governor Spaight shows other but 
less important matters, but in all his deep interest in the 
welfare of the State. 

After serving his constitutional term of three years, 
Governor Spaight was succeeded in 1795 by Samuel 
Ashe, and he retired, as he hoped, forever from the cares 
of public life. About this time, being then thirty-seven 
years of age, lu3 mari-icnl ]Miss Mary Leach, of Holmes- 
burg, Pa., who was of the highest social position, and 
of one of the oldest and most influential families. 

But circumstances seemed to dcfv his expectations of 
retirement. Nathan Bryan, a meniber of the House of 
Representatives from the Xewbern District died, and a 
successor had to be elected. The public voice demanded 
again the services of Governor Spaiglit. He was elected, 
and took liis seat in Congress cm tlie 10th of December, 
1798, (3rd Session, 5th Congress,) Jonatlian Dayton, of 
New Jersey, being the speaker. He Avas re-elected a 
member of the (Hh Congress, from 1799 to the 1th of 
March, 1801. Theodore SedgcAvick, of Massachusetts, 

*Hou. B. F. Moore ou Uuiversity of North Carolina, 1877. 



Richard Dohhs /Spffir/ht. 17 

was the Speaker. His feeble health durincj these terms, 
as the Journals show, prevented his takinu nn active 
part in the proccecliniis. He did not take his sc^at in 
the Cth Congress until the 2nd of January, ISOO. His 
colleagues were Timothy Bloodworth and Jesse Frank- 
lin in the Senate, and Willis Alston, Jos. Dixon, William 
Barry Grove, Archibald Henderson, Wm. H. Hill, 
Nathaniel Macon, Kichard Stanford, David Stone and 
Kobert Williams, in the House. 

This was a dark period in the history of our Republic. 
Questions of the gravest character Avere de1)ated with 
ability, virulence and zeal. The Alien and Sedition 
laws were advocated by the friends of the Administra- 
tion, and other obnoxious measures. 

For the first time in our history the election of a Presi- 
dent devolved upon the House of Representatives in 
Congress. On counting the votes of the States, (138,) 
it was reported by the tellers that of these votes Thomas 
Jeiferson received 73 votes, Aaron Burr 73 votes, John 
Adams G5 votes, C. C. Pinckney 61, and John Jay 1. 

There being no choice by the people, the House pro- 
ceeded, on the 11th of February, 1801, in the manner 
prescribed by the Constitution, to the choice of a Presi- 
dent of the United States. On the first ballot, eight 
States voted for Thomas Jefi'erson; six States voted for 
Aaron Burr, and the votes of two States were blank. 
The balloting continued, with the same results, until 
Tuesday, the 17th of February, when, on the 3()th ballot, 
the Speaker declared that Mr. Jefferson had received 
the votes of ten States; that Mr. Burr had received the 
votes of four States, and that the votes of two States 
were blank. Consequently, Mr. Jefferson was elected. 
(See Hickey's Const., 311.) 



18 JRicJfard Dohhs Spaic/ht. 

Governor kSpaight voted invariably with Alston, 
Macon, Stanford, Stone and Williams for Jeiferson; 
while Dickson, Grove, Henderson and Hill voted for 
Burr. Gen. Dickson finally voted for Jeiferson. (See 
Annals of Congress, 1801.) 

This, as has been stated, was a critical period in the 
history of our Government. The very foundations of 
the Constitution seemed to be broken up, and the deluge 
of anarchy and confusion to overspread the land. Then 

" Shrieked the timid and stood still the brave." 

But the ark finally outrode the storm, and rested on 
the Ararat of safet}. The crisis was rightfully set- 
tled, for it was j)atent to all, then, as is to all now, that 
Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Adams only were the contending 
candidates for President, and that Mr. Jefferson received 
a majority over Mr. Adams in the popular as well as 
the electoral vote. Hence the advocacy of the claims 
of Mr. Burr was instigated on the part of his friends 
by party passion and deliberate fraud, and on his part 
by unhallowed ambition. 

" The sin whereby the Angels fell." 

This difficulty for the future was remedied by an 
amendment (Article XII) to the Constitution. Other 
amendments in this respect are demanded by recent ex- 
perience, and which doubtless will receive the consider- 
ation of Congress.* 

When in England in 1SG4, conversing with a member 
of Parliament, who was well informed and curious as to 

*Mr. Jertersoii, in a letter dated J2th .Inly, 1810, to Saninel Kerch- 
eval, insists that no Constitntion onght to go longer than twenty 
years without an opportunity being given to the i)eople to alter or 
amend it. (See Jefferson's Works, vii : 9.) 



Richard Dohhs Spaif/hf. 10 

the Avorkiiio-8 of our governinciit, I was asked if wc had 
any tribunal which had the power to examine and settle 
a contested election for President, in cases of alleged 
fraud, error or corruption. When informed there was 
none, he i)ronounccd "our government a rope of saud, 
which the tirst storm of popuhir jdirenzy mi,i>ht shatter 
to pieces." In the Appendix is presented the views of 
Lord Macauhiy on our Government.* In the ])rivate 
memoirs of Washington, by Curtis, (leneral Hamilton, 
as to our Constitution, said to General Washington: 
"Xow, mark my words, so long as we are a young and 
virtuous people, the Constitution will bind us togctlicr 
in mutual interests, in mutual welfare, and in mutnal 
happiness; but when we become old and corrupt, it will 
bind us no longer." 

Thus fiir our Eepublic has stood the shocks of foreign 
war and intestine convulsions for a century, and is the 
acknowledged peer of tlie most prosperous nation on 
earth. May Ave not hope that it will be perpetual? 

"Thou, too, sail on, O .ship of State 
Sail oil, O Union, .strong and jireat 
Humanity, with all its tears, 
Is banging breathless on thy fate. 
We know what masters laid thy keel. 
What workmen wrought thy ribs of steel, 
Who made each mast and sail and rope, 
What anvils rang, what hammers beat, 
In what forge, in what a heat. 
Were shaped the anchors of thy hope.'' 

After the excitement and labors of this extraordinary 
session of CcmgrevSS, Governor Spaight returned liome 
exhausted, with the fixed purpose of retiring from 
public life. He declined a re-election to Congress, and 
sought repose. But the accession of the Kepublican 
party to power and i)atronage, added fresh fuel to the 
desperate fortunes of the federal forces, and party spirit, 
*See Appendix. 



20 Eichard Dohhs Spaight. 

in deinoniac fury, raged with a ferocity unparalleled in 
tbe history of our country, before or since. Governor 
Si)aight was the accepted and acknowledged leader of 
the Republican party, while Mr. Stanly Avas the astute 
and able advocate of the Federalists. 

The people demanded then the continued services of 
Governor Spaight, and elected him to the State Senate. 
Mr. Stanly was elected in that year (1801) the member 
of Congress from the Newbern District. Frequent dis- 
cussions between these champions of the two parties 
occurred.* It is recorded that the conduct of Governor 
Spaight in these discussions was marked by the strictest 
decorum; while he respected the feelings and rights of 
others, his manhood repelled any attempt to impugn his 
sincerity or honor. The correspondence shows that the 
course of Mr. Stanly was personal and caustic. He 
charged that Governor Spaight dodged^ under the pre- 
tence of sickness, when any important vote, on any 
objectionable measure, Avas taken in Congress. This 
aspersion was repelled by Governor Spaight in a hand- 
bill, which Mr. Stanly denounced "as containing humili- 
ating tilth," and for which he sent a challenge to Gover- 
nor Spaight to mortal combat; and although, like Ham- 
ilton, no advocate of violence or of duelling, GoAcrnor 
Spaight, like Hamilton, accepted promptly the call, and 
also, like Hamilton, he fell. From his enfeebled condi- 
tion — for he could scarcely hold steadily a pistol — he 
might have declined the invitation. This tragic event 
caused a deep sensation throughout the Avhole country, 
and is still remembered Avith mournful interest. 

In the " Recollections of NcAvbern Fifty Years Ago," 
by Stephen F. Miller,t it is recorded that " this duel 

•Address at Newbern of Kev. J. T. Irviiii^, on the death of Gov- 
ernor Spaight. 

tSee Our Living and Our Dead, Raleigh, January, 1875.. 



RicharfJ Dobhs Spa iff ht. 21 

was foui^lit on 5tli September, 1802, behind the old 
Masonic Hall, in the outskirts of Newbern. An eye 
witness (Thomas Brown, since Fostmastxn* at Trenton,) 
informed me that on the second tire the bullet pierced 
the coat collar of ]Mr. Stanly ; on the fourth tire General 
Spaii»ht was mortally wounded, and died the next day. 
(^riminal proceedings were instituted against Stanly." 
The jx'tition of Mr. Stanly for pardon fr<mi the Gov- 
ernor (Williams) may be found in the History of North 
Carolina,* and also a copy of the challenge and accept- 
ance. A funeral oration was delivered over his remains 
by his Rector and life-long friend. Rev. J. T. Irving. 
Two life size portraits of him are preserved in the Inde- 
pendence Hall, in Philadelphia. 

When aware that the wound was mortal, Governor 
Spaight met his fate with that patience under suifering 
that had so long been his lot, and with that magna- 
nimity which marked his character. As a statesman, he 
was pure and patriotic ; as a parent, sincere and atfec- 
tionate ; his memory and his services are held in respect 
and veneration. 

" He was not born to shame. 



Upon his brow shame was ashamed to sit, 

For it was a throne where Honor might be crowned 

Sole monarch of the universal earth." 

We have traced the genealogy of his family, (on his 
mother's side,) from 1591), and his own career Irom his 
cradle to his grave. Our sketch Avould be incom- 
plete without some notice of his descendants, to whom 
he left a large estate. Of his marriage with Miss Leach, 
two sons and one daughter survived him. 

I. RiCHAEU DoBBS Spaight, Jr., born in 1796, in 
Newbern; educated at the University; where he gradu- 

•See Wheeler's History of North Carolina, 11, 112. 



22 Richard Dohhs SpaUiht. 

ated in 1815, in the same class with John H. Bryan, 
Rev. Francis L. Hawks, Wilie P. ^langnni and others. 
He studied law; elected to the Lejiislature in 1819, 1820, 
1821 and 1822 ; elected member of Congress 1828 to 
1825 ; again elected in 1825 to the Senate of the State 
Legislature, and in 1831 elected by the Legislature, Gov- 
ernor of the State. He was the hist Governor elected 
by the Legislature;, for the Constitution, amended in 
1835, transferred tlie election of Goyernor from the 
Legislature to the j)opular yote. He died unmarried in 
1850. 

II. Charles B. Spaight, born about 1800, in Xew- 
bern ; educated at the Uniyersit\ , at which he graduated 
in 1820, in the same chiss witli B. Jb\ Moore, Wm. H. 
Battle and others. Studied law ; in the Legislature in 
1829-1830. Died in 1831, unmarried. 

III. Makgaret Spaight, wlio married Hok. John 
Robert Doxni]ll. Judge Dimnell was a native of 
Ireland, born near Londonderry in 1791 ; came to North 
Carolina when eight years of age, under the auspices of 
a wealthy uncle, Robert Donnell, who resided at Kings- 
ton, Lenoir county. He was educated at the IJniyersity 
at whicli lie graduated with the hrst hon(u-s in 1807, in 
the same class with Gavin Hogg and others, then only 
16 years old. He studied law, and was a successful and 
popular advocate. In 1815 he was elected the Solicitor 
of the Xewbern District, and in 1819 he Avas elected 
Judge of the Superior Courts of Law and Equity, which 
high position he resigned in 1830. 

It is a beautiful illustration of tlie workings of our 
republican system of goveriunent, and which has bnmght 
numy men of energy, learning and talents to our shores 
from abroad, that foreign birth is no impediment to 
success, and that without any friends, save such as vir- 
tue and talent may secure, and no fortune but ])rinci- 



Richard Dobh.s Spa if/ /if. 23 

pics of honor and justice, forciti^ncrs may, and often do, 
attain to the highest positicnis of trust, honor and profit 
in our Kepublie. This woiuler-Morkinii' prineipU' lias 
no parallel in the history of any nation, ancient or 
modern, and is justly a source of national pride. How 
long would (Tallatin have had to live in Enghmd to have 
become a member of the House of Lords? or how long; 
would Hamilton had to live in France to become a 
Chief Minister of the Treasury ? 

In his otiicial duties. Judge Donnell was learned, 
patient, polite and incorruptible ; a man of strict in- 
tegrity and spotless reputation, as well as a kind, con- 
siderate and indulgent parent, and an obliging and 
generous neighbor. He wisely eschewed the allure- 
ments of politics, and devoted himself to his profession, 
to his family and his property. By skilful management 
of the large property which he had obtained by his own 
industry and inheritance from his uncle, and by marriage 
and its connection, he was possessed of a liberal and 
ample fortune. This was, however, much impaired by 
the vicissitudes of war. At the time of his death at 
Raleigh, on the 15th of October, 1864, he was a refugee 
from his princely home and estates after the Federal 
occupancy of ^ewbern. His descendants are: — 

1. Richard Spaight Donnell,* who was born about 
1819 ; educated at the University, at Avhich he graduated 
in 1839, in the same class with Clarke M. Avery, Dennis 
D. Ferebee, Thomas D. Meares, and others. He was 
distinguished as a lawyer. His first public service was 
as a member of Congress in 1817-1819. He was elected 
to the Legislature from Beaufort county, in 18(31, 1862, 
1863 and 1864. He was twice elected Speaker of the 
House. He died unmarried in 1867. 

*See Appendix. 



24 Richard Dobhs Spaif/ht. 

2. Mary, was the second wife of the Hon. Charles 
B. Shepard. Mr. Shepard was a native of Kewbern; 
born 5th December, 1807; educated at the UniTersitv 
at which he i>Tadnated in 1827, in the same class with 
A. O. P. Xicholson, of Tennessee, Warren AVinslow 
and others. He was the son of William 8hepard, who 
was also the father of AVilliam B., James B. and Fred- 
erick B.* Tlieir mother was a Blount of tlie old and 
distinguished family of that name in North Carolina 
and in England. Their Aunt (Hannali Sliepard) married 
Mr. Biddle of Philadelphia. Slie was the mother of 
Commodore Biddle and Nicholas Biddle, the celebrated 
financier. He was elected a member of the House of 
Representatives in Congress from 1837 to 1841, and died 
26th October, 184.3, leaving a son by a former marriage, 
and two daugliters. One of whom, (Mary,) married 
James A. Bryan, of N'ewbern, whose mother Avas a Miss 
W^ashington, and has one child, Charles S., now in the 
14th year of his age, and Margaret, who married Samuel 
S. Nelson, of New Orleans, and is now a Avidow. 

3. Fanxie Donnell, married James B. Shepard. 
Mr. Shepard a\ as a native of Newbern ; born 14th No- 
vember, 1815. Educated at the University of North 
Carolina, at which he graduated in 1834. Studied law. 
In 1839, appointed by the President, United States Dis- 
trict Attorney for North Carolina. In 1842 and 1844 
he was a member of the Legislature from Wake county. 
In 1840 a candidate for Governor, opposing Governor 
Graliam, and in 1818 a candidate for Congress, oppo- 
sing General Lawrence O'B. Branch. He died in 
Raleigh, on 17th June, 1871, soon after his return from 



*Millei'« Kecollections of Newbern, November (1874) imuiber of 
Our Living aii(( Our Dead, page 252— "Old Graves iu Beaufort," 
xvi: 890. 



Richanl Dohhs Sixuf/Itf. 25 

an extended sqjonrn in Enropc, leaving one son, John 
R. D. Sheparci, who graduated at the University in 
1865, and at present lives in Paris. 

4. AxXTE is unniarried : She is the owner of the 
family mansion in Newbern, and has a Summer resi- 
dence in Asheville, North Carolina. 

5. C. Spakjht Donnell, married Thomas JNIundell 
Keerl, a member of the Bar, now residing in Balti- 
more. Mr. Keerl was born in Baltimore ; educated at 
Princeton, where he graduated with high honors. His 
paternal grandfather was of one of the oldest families 
of Bavaria, whence he came to America and settled as 
a pli ysician in Baltimore. His father was a merchant 
of tliat place. His mother was a native of Prince 
George's county, Maryland. Her father, Thomas Mun- 
dell, was a native of Ayreshire, Scotland, (Burns' birth- 
place,) and was a pupil of Dugald Stewart, and descended 
from the celebrated General Leslie, Cromwell's rival. 
Her mother's mother was a Miss Bowie. Her mother 
was a Miss Eversfield, descended from Rev. John Evers- 
field, of the ancient family of Eversfield, of Sussex, 
England, whence he came to Maryland. He was a 
clergyman of ability and piety, was possessed of a large 
estate, and was the uncle of Bishop Claggett, the first 
Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church of Mary- 
land.* 

Mr. and Mrs. Keerl have one son living, Eversfield 
Eraser, now in the sixteenth year of his age ; hav- 
ing lost their oldest child, John Robert Donnell, a 
noble and gifted l)oy in the fifteenth year of his age, 
by a stage accident in the mountains of Ncav Hamp- 
shire. Their second child, Richard Dobbs Spaight, died 
at the age of fourteen months, in Xoitli Carolina. 

John H. Wheeler. 

*See Spia^ue's Lives of tlie Episcopal Clergy. 
4 



APPENDIX. 

The Views of Lord Macaulay as to tlie future of America, as 
expressed in a letter to Judge H, S. Randall, of Virginia, author 
of the Life of Jefferson, dated '' Holly Lodge, Kensington, London, 
May 23rd, 1857": 

'■'■ 1 have been convinced tiiat institutious purely denioeratie must 
sooner or later destroy liberty or civilizatiou, or both. In Europe, 
where the population is dense, the effect would be instantaneous. 
Either the i)oor would plunder the rich, and civilization would perish ; 
or order and prosperity would be preserved by a strong military gov- 
ernment, and liberty perish. You may think your country enjoys an 
exemption from these evils. I frankly own to you that I am of a 
different opinion. Your fate is certain, though it is delayed by a 
phj'sical cause. So long as you have a boundless extent of fertile 
and unoccupied land, your laboring population will be far more at 
ease than the same class in the old world, and, while that is the case, 
the Jefferson politics may exist without causing any fatal calamity. 
But the time will come when New England will be as thickly peopled 
as Old l!]ngland. Wages will be as low, and fluctuate as much with 
you as with us. You will have your Manchesters and Birminghams, 
and in these hundreds of thousands will assuredly be out of work. 
Then your institutions will be fairly brought to the test. Distress 
makes the laborer mutinous and discontented, and he listens with 
eagerness to agitators who tell him that it is a monstrous iniciuity 
that one man should have a million, while another cannot get a fall 
meal. In bad years, it is true we have a plenty of grumbling here 
in England, and often some rioting. But this matters but little, for 
here the sutterers are not the rulers. The supreme power is in the 
hands of a select, of an educated class — of a class which knows 
itself to be deeply interested in the security of property and the 
maintenence of order. Ac(!ordingly, the malcontents are firmly but 
gently restrained. The bad times are got over, without robbing the 
rich to relieve the indigent. The si)rings of national pr()si)erity soon 
begin to flow again ; work is plentiful ; wages rise ; and all is tran- 
quility and cheerfulness. T have seen England pass through three or 
four t'mws such critical seasons as I have described. Tliroiigh such 
seasons, the United States nuist i>ass in the couise of the next cen- 
tury, if not in this. And how will you get through f 1 heartily 
w ish you a safe deli^•erancc. But my reason and my wishes are at 



Ajypendix. 27 

war, and I cannot help foreboding tlio worst. It is quite plain that 
yonr ooverument will never be able to restrain a distressed and dis- 
contented majority— for the majority is the government, and has the 
rich, who always are in a minority, at their mercy. The day will 
(;ome when in the State of ^'ew York, a mnltitn<le of i)eople, none of 
whom has had more than half a breaktast, or expects to have any 
dinner, will choose the Legislature. Is it jmssible to doubt what 
kind of members will be chosen '. On one side is a statesman preach- 
ing patience ; respect for vested rights ; strict observance of public 
faith. On the other is a demogogue ranting about the tyranny of 
capitalists and usurers, and asking why any one should be permitted 
to drink champagne au<l ride in carriages, while thousands of honest 
folks are in actual want of necessaries. Which of the two candidates 
is likely to be preferred when he hears his children crying for bread? 
1 seriously fear that you will in some such season of adversity do 
things wliich will prevent prosperity from returning— that you will 
act like people who in a year of scarcity devour all the seed corn, and 
thus make the next year not one of scarcity but of absolute famine. 
Then come spoliations— this will only increase the distress ; there is 
nothing to stop yon. Your Constitution is all sail and no anchor. 
When society has entered on the downward progress, either civiliza- 
tion or liberty must perish, or both. Either some Cciesar or Napoleon 
will seize the reins of government with a strong hand, or your repub- 
lic will be as fully plundered and laid waste by barbarians in the 20th 
century, as the Koman empire was in the tifth century, with this dif- 
ference, that the Huns and Vandals who ravaged the Roman empire 
came from without, while yonr Huns and Vandals will have been 
engendered within vour own country by your own institutions.'' 

J. H. W. 



FKOM BIOGRAPHICAL RECORD OF YALE COLLEGE. 

CLASS OF 1S3S. 
Ricliard Spaiglit Doiincll. 

Born at New Berne, N. C, Sept. 20, 18lM). His father, Hon. John 
E. Donnell, descended from an influential family in the Xorth of 
Ireland; inherited wealth from a relative in this country; came to 
North Carolina when a youth; was educated in the University of 
that State and became a distinguished lawyer and judge. The 
mother of Kichard, Margaret Elizabeth Spaight, was the only daugh- 
ter of Gov. Kichard L>obbs Spaight, the Bevolutionary patriot, and 
sister of the younger Gov. Spaight, distinguished in Congress, etc. 
Our classmate was an only son and lost his mother in his early 
youth, but retained permanently the imi)ress of her accomplishments 
and virtnes. He was taught in New lierne Academy; entered the 
class in its Sophomore year, its yonngest member; left during the 
first term of Senior year. He left with ns a distinct recollection of 
his generous impulses and noble spirit. He went to the University 
of North Carolina, where he was graduated in 1839, receiving the 
same year the honorary degree from Yale College. He studied law 
with his father, was admitted to the bar, took an active part in 
politics on the side of the Whigs, his father being a Democrat. 
Having made his home in Washington, N. C, in 1848, Mr. Donnell 
w as elected to Congress and took his seat in that body, its youngest 
member, and just beyond the age required by the Constitution. He 
was described by a newspaper correspondent as "being fair as a girl, 
with tine, light, curly hair that any young lady might envy." He 
was attentive to the duties of liis office, and took an active and influ- 
ential part in the discussions. On the 29th of July, 1848, he de- 
livered a speech of great power and eloquence in the House of 
Eepresentatives, on the Compromise bill. His influence was always 
thrown in favor of Union and of a peaceful settlement of the sectional 
and other questions at issue. Feb. 19, 1849, he made a speech with 
characteristic ability and earnestness on the bills to establish Terri- 
torial governments in California and New Mexico, dei)recating the 
thought of disunion and anticipating the horrors it would involve. 
He declined a reelection to Congress, and left that body with a 
strong impression upon his associates of his honesty and earnestness 
of i)urpose, and of his sound sense. 

After leaving Congress, Mr. Donnell represented Beaufort County 
in the Legislature of North Carolina, and was elected Speaker of 
that body. At the crisis of the civil war, under date of July 16, 



Ajypcndix. 29 

1863, he printed in the Ealeigh Staiiclarrt of July 31, a long letter 
on the ''History of Secession." In language at once earnest and 
temperate, he most eloquently urged the claims of peace, and mani- 
fested the continued love for the Union which all his life he had 
cherished. This pajjcr attracted much attention throughout the 
country and took rank as one of the most important publications 
elicited by the war. His next public ser\ice was to assist in the 
revision of the Constitution of the State. Soon after this, his health 
rapidly failed. He was long a sutteier from gout, which he inherited 
from his mother's family. He died at New Berne, June 3, 1807. 

"Mr. Donnell was one of the most eminent lawyers of ISTorth 
Carolina. Throughout his extensive practice no instance of ungener- 
ous conduct can be remembered, and no case of dishonorable influ- 
ence operating- upon him can be exhibited. Xot a syllable question- 
ing his honesty and integrity was ever uttered. Becoming once 
unexpectedly involved for a friend, he surrendered every dollar of 
his large estate, and did it with such cheerfulness and alacrity that 
even his most intimate friends looked on amazed. In the circle of 
his friends can now be repeated with truth, what was once said of 
his lamented mother, he was the signal object of resjiectful homage 
and esteem, and where he lived its pride and ornament." 

Mr. Donnell was never married. Three sisters are living.